Bob Geldof branded the BBC World Service a ‘rotten old cherry’ yesterday for claiming that millions of pounds raised by Band Aid and Live Aid were spent on weapons. Mail Online
In a vitriolic attack, the singer accused the radio station of a ‘total collapse of standards’.
He threatened to take legal action against the corporation after it reported that more than £70million of the money raised to fight famine in Ethiopia was intercepted by rebel fighters.
But Geldof – the mastermind behind the Live Aid concerts in 1985 – faces calls to prove that the BBC report was misleading.
David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, said the campaigner should ‘carry out his own investigation’, adding: ‘I am surprised he is so angry at the BBC who have actually alerted the public to a possible catastrophe.’
The row broke out last week after the World Service broadcast a programme in which Aregawi Berhe, a former Ethiopian rebel commander, claimed that in 1985 only 5 per cent of the £75million destined for famine relief in the northern province of Tigray reached the hungry.
The report – by Africa editor Martin Plaut – also carried an allegation from another former rebel that the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front had tricked aid workers into giving them money.
Geldof refuses to be pacified by the corporation’s insistence that the documentary was ‘a well researched and carefully argued piece of journalism’.
In an article in The Guardian yesterday, he called for Mr Plaut, Andrew Whitehead – news and current affairs editor at World Service – and station director Peter Horrocks to be fired.
‘I consider the real story of this sorry saga to be the systemic failure of the World Service, the cherry on the cake of the BBC’s reputation,’ he wrote.
‘It is a rotten old cherry these days. And I am as bereft as a jilted lover.’
The aid agencies which were in Ethiopia during the famine all deny the BBC’s allegations, but some privately admit that ensuring help reaches the needy can be difficult amid a civil war.
Andrew Hogg, from Christian Aid, said: ‘You cannot run these hugely damaging allegations based on the say so of two former members of the TPLF.
‘A simple check on Google will show that you are not dealing with two disinterested individuals.’
An Oxfam spokesman said: ‘The programme is misleading and it implies something that did not happen. Lives were saved.’